Monday, December 03, 2007

Try the grey stuff, it's delicious.

I have to share this, because if any more time passes, I won't be able to do it justice.

My three coworkers and I just came from the most amazing meal experience of my life.

Meal "experience," Dave? Yes.

During every business trip, we try to go to one really upscale restaurant and blow a lot of money on a fancy dinner. This trip, it was what we were assured was the best restaurant in Boston.

Ain't no lie, my friends.

The decor seemed hip/classic. Lots of dark woods. Medium-dim lighting. Good music (Imogen Heap was a favorite). The menu was very self-assured and ostensibly snooty. I was going to go with the "fish and chips," since it was 1) the cheapest entree, and 2) the most normal choice.

One coworker said, "I wonder what the five-course taste meal is." I could tell you what it was--four times the price of my first selection.

Turns out the five course meal was a special chef-prepared feast, with all of the flavors and choices specifically planned to blend together. But it could only be ordered for the full table. Everyone was immediately on board but me. I finally acquiesced. Good choice, Dave.

My only concern at the start was, "No sushi." I have a standing policy against raw meat. The waiter, who was the spitting image of Omar Epps, went and asked the chef about this. Turns out there would be sushi. Feeling adventurous, and at the urging of all three tablemates, I agreed. Bring it on, I'm ready to go for it.

The idea of the five-course taste menu is to use small portions, so that lots of different flavors can be experienced. I was worried that I'd still be hungry, after a meal of what I expected to be miniature dabs of food. I was working with a media-fed expectation of "snooty restaurant food." My boss assured me we'd go find real food afterwards. That wasn't necessary.

I wish I could remember every detail of the symphony of food we experienced tonight. I can only give you the highlights. [Sara, you'll have to fill in what I missed, if you can remember.]

First dish: A miniature fish taco, essentially. Very tasty. Very small, no more than two inches long. Cute, but it didn't give me confidence that this meal would be worth the price. I kept eating the rolls, just in case it was more of the same. I had too many rolls.

Second dish: A trio of sushi choices. My boss told me afterwards that I stepped up and tried "graduate-level" sushi, instead of working my way up. I will say that I'm not likely to pursue further instruction; but the experience was good. I don't remember the exact details, sorry, though I know one was a tartar, one was a roll, and one was just a two-square-inch piece of flaming red fish. The first bite of each was okay. The second bites of the slab and the roll kicked in my gag reflex a little. But I got it down.

Third dish: More sushi. This was apparently my boss' favorite. It was topped with bits of real bacon, a fried quail egg, a few other things, and caviar. Caviar. Seriously. There was also a really tasty sauce. This bit of sushi was actually good. The warmth of the egg helped.

Fourth dish: Grilled fish. A halibut, I think. On a pile of veggies, with two different kinds of sauces ringed around, one buttery, one lemony. YUM. Not so yum: among the veggies were a few anchovies, which I'd never had before and didn't rave about, but the sauces cut some of the strong flavor down.

We thought that there would be one more to come. I said, "It wasn't a lot, but it was a good experience, and I tried new things. This was good." But then the brilliantly-skilled and top-notch waitstaff layed out forks and knives. More? There's more?

Five courses. Not five dishes.

Fifth Dish: Venison, medium-rare. More veggies. Venison reduction. Other things going on. This dish was a little too sweet, but I didn't want to miss it, so I ate a good bit of it.

Sixth Dish: Watermelon champagne sorbet. Cleansed the palate (though I'm not jazzed about the slight champagne-y aftertaste).

Seventh Dish(es): For the grand finale, four different desserts. I can't remember all the detail, but there were two cannolis, a butterscotch pudding, chocolate beignets, a praline ice cream with an amazing psuedo-cookie platform, and some kind of custard I couldn't pronounce. We all shared these amazing desserts, and then I had a cappucino afterwards.

I haven't done this meal justice; there were so many flavors and combinations and little touches that made it amazing.

We sat at the table for just over three hours. My share of the bill came out to more than my family of five would spend for a meal together. But I have to tell you, my friends, the shared experience was worth every penny.

New things I tried tonight:
four types of sushi;
a few new types of desert;
and various veggies that until now were little more than spelling words to me.

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